ST. GEORGE – According to a September poll by Bankrate.com, 40 percent of Americans have cut their spending in the last 60 days.
People from all income and age groups concerned about the stock market or fearing another recession are trimming their budget and are expected to crack down even more in preparation of the approaching holiday season.
Families in Washington County, one of the nation’s fastest-growing urban regions, talked with St. George News about how they cut their budgets.
St. George resident Kerrie Bowler sums up her family’s saving efforts in one word: “Everywhere. We’re cutting everywhere, even on food and utilities.”
Bowler, a full-time librarian, says the holidays are more a time of saving than spending in her home.
“My husband owns a landscaping company and winter is his slow season,” she said. “My family usually doesn’t exchange presents aside from gift cards for our children.”
Aside from raising four young sons, Ivins residents Brad and Cyndi Pollmann both work full-time – she at the Fitness Ridge health resort and he as the owner of B.T. Pearson Tires on Bluff Street.
“We’re constantly trimming our budget,” Cyndi Pollmann said. “Lately it’s movies, arcades, going out to eat. Couponing helps. For the holidays, we start saving money ahead of time.”
Many are turning to alternative ways to give and save.
“My kids and I make gifts ourselves,” said Heidi Larsen, a married mom of two and co-owner of the Fuego House of Dance in St. George. “We try to keep Christmas as cheap as possible without cutting presents out altogether.”
Santa Clara resident Genevieve Eklund and her 14-year-old daughter Franchesca are both passionate about arts, crafts, and tasty treats – a passion they love sharing with friends at Christmastime.
“Fran makes craft flowers and bead jewelry,” Eklund said. “We also love to give out baked goodies like homemade candies and cake pops to our neighbors.”
When asked if their stores have felt the effects of the recent downsizing, Washington County retailers’ answers spanned the spectrum from an immediate, somber “yes” to a clearly relieved “no.”
“The economic downturn has affected my business, but in a positive way,” said Alan Day, owner/manager of the American Mobile Company, which offers pay-as-you-go cell service. “When compared to contract plans, the rates are much lower. People favor prepaid now.”
Dallan Cunningham, an electronics associate at K-Mart St. George, said he hasn’t noticed much of a difference.
“I’ve worked in this department for five years, and lately [business] has been pretty steady. I don’t think much is going to change [from last year]. Christmas is always our busy season, mostly because of layaway.”
According to Pollmann, who opened B.T. Pearson Tires in mid-2010, “Business has been better than ever before. This August, we saw a 50 percent increase over last year. It’s awesome.”
But other retailers haven’t weathered the recent spending cuts as well.
Ashley Engleke, a sales associate at Payless Shoe Source on Bluff Street, said her company’s sales fell an estimated 30 percent as compared to numbers from last year.
Despite slowing sales in some areas, local retailers are decidedly optimistic about the holidays.
“September marks the start of our busy season,” said Josh Obagy, a customer service specialist at PC Innovations. “From now until March, I hope to see increased customer flow, more products sold, and more service rendered overall. If business from the past few months is any indication, I’m expecting a terrific holiday season.”
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